In fact, I'd make the argument that the Twitter document hack could turn out to be the best thing that has happened to Twitter yet, in terms of pushing the company towards either an exit strategy that involves going public or being sold, or in helping the company become a profitable organization much faster. Here's the list.
- Publicity. Yes, Twitter had its fair share of publicity before. But coverage of it being compromised in this manner is quite literally dominating the technology press. Popular blogs, such as Henry Blodget's Business Insider, are publishing article after article about the Twitter docs hack. Every mainstream news organization and every technology publication that can shoehorn another story angle about the docs jailbreak onto its pages is doing so. A quick Google search of the term "Twitter document" coughs up over 2,000 news stories from hundreds of outlets. You simply can't buy that kind of publicity. If an isolated tribe in the remote Amazon didn't know about Twitter before, they probably do now.
- Improved business focus. As Erick Schoenberg of TechCrunch revealed, Twitter does have a defining mantra - "To be the Pulse of the Planet". Remember, Google has drawn incredible strength from its mantra, "Organizing all the world's information." Drawing strength from a mantra is how organizational cultures are forged, and strogn organizational cultures help small organizations grow into bigger ones. From this core mantra, Twitter should be able to more easily move forward with revenue generation opportunities on the periphery of the free aspect of the service.
- Discipline. Now that their dirty laundry has been hung out for the entire world to see, Twitter has become acutely aware that the company needs to GROW UP. Problems must be fixed immediately. The regular service outages are not OK. The regular internal information leaks (while I like them) are not OK. And everyone working for the company must, puulleaze, change those passwords regularly and use a combination of numbers and letters! Not that Twitter founders Ev and Biz weren't thinking some of this before, but now they need to follow through. Screw-up once like this and people will say you're kinda dumb, but you can be forgiven. Twice, and you look unfit to lead your company and your venture capital partners become really mad.
- Valuation. I'd argue that the internal documents being revealed boosted Twitter's valuation. Why? The documents show that Twitter was relatively ambivalent to the ardent entreaties of Google (GOOG), one of the last big tech acquirers standing and a natural partner. YouTube is video search. Twitter is real-time search. They could both fit nicely under the Google roof. But Twitter is playing hard to get. That will be worth a lot of money because, let's face, Twitter will be very hard to replicate in terms of its sheer number of users. Other micro-blogging networks will pop up and compete for the market, no doubt. But going from zero to tens of millions of users with what is essentially a consumer brand is no easy feat.